Credit & Grade System


One of the frequently asked questions on our YouTube channel and Facebook groups is to explain the credit system in the US.

So let’s discuss it in detail.

Credit is the recognition for taking a course at a school or university, used as a measure to ascertain if enough hours have been made for graduation.

At the universities, each credit represents 1 hour of class or lab time.

You have a three-credit course with either one 3 hour class, two 1.5 hour classes or three 1 hour classes. Each credit has around 2 hours of homework, But that’s the benchmark of the credit system. Some courses require more efforts in doing assignments than others.

On average, a masters program can be anywhere between 30-36 credits. You can take all those credits within a year or two or 1.5, depending upon the course load and whether you are planning to do a thesis or not.

Here is an example of a Masters in Marketing program from UT Austin, a one-year program. The students graduate in May, but instead of starting in August, they start a month or 1.5 months ahead of the regular program. This way, they can finish 37 credit hours within ten months and are job-ready right after a year.

Whereas there is another program at Georgia Tech MS in CS, which is divided into three sections

  1. Course option
  2. Thesis option
  3. Project option

These three options help students decide the best route for them based on their plans in the future.

So when students ask seniors, they may tell you how much time it takes for someone to graduate? They might be able to talk and discuss their program, but to have a piece of in-depth knowledge about other programs is not possible, Unless the senior has researched a lot and referred to multiple seniors on how things work in their courses.

If you want to know how credits are associated with the fees, please check out this video.

Grading System

Grades are divided into the following

  • A +/-
  • B +/-
  • C +/-
  • D +/-
  • F

Some professors do not give out grades such as +/-. They give out absolute grades such as A, B, C, D or F. International students who are doing their masters program or PhDs can’t have a CGPA lower than 3.0. If they have a CGPA of less than 3.0, they are put on probation for one semester, and on scoring badly again, they are suspended from the university.

notion image

Source: NCSU –

Please note that the American universities are extremely accommodating for personal reasons, due to which you may have underperformed. It’s easy to freak out and get worried if you get a GPA well below 3.0, but the lesson that I want you to remember is keeping you calm and figuring a way to solve the problem.
Panicking and worrying about issues never help!

Calculate your GPA

Let’s have a look on how to calculate your GPA.

Grade – GPA Table

Letter GradePercent Grade4.0 Scale
E/FBelow 650

Let’s see if I get the following grades what my GPA would look like.

  1. English – A = 4.0
  2. Math – A- -=3.7
  3. Physics – B+ = 3.3
  4. Chemistry – C- = 1.7

And here are the credits associated with the courses.

  1. English – 2
  2. Math – 3
  3. Physics – 4
  4. Chemistry – 3

so the GPA will be = [(4.0×2) + (3.7×3) + (3.3×4) + (1.7×3)]/total credits = 37.4/12

GPA = 3.11

This is how you calculate the GPA to determine the course that needs more focus. The higher the credit course, the more priority it requires.

To calculate the average GPA of 4 semesters, use the formula below.

CGPA = [GPA1 x credits1 + GPA2 x credits2 + GPA3 x credits3 + GPA4 x credits4]/Total credits

That’s all. It’s as simple as that!